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Mixed bag of comps for holiday kickoff in November

New York – As the critical holiday season kicked of in the third week of November, a handful of retail chains showed positive comps during the month, lead by Ross Stores and TJX Cos. – each of which posted 8.0% comp increases.

Only one retailer on this list – Dillard’s Inc. –  suffered a double-digit comp decline during the four-week period, dipping 11%. Several other department stores, like Stein Mart, Macy’s, Bon-Ton and JCPenney, turned in mid-single digit decreases.

Framingham, Mass.-based TJX Cos. credited its home business for lifting its performance during the month. The Home Goods chain generated a robust 18%.comp store sales increase.

“This division continues to do a great job at offering a rapidly changing selection of home fashions at excellent values, which is driving significant increases in customer traffic,” explained Sherry Lang, svp, investor and public relations.

In the company’s Marmaxx division, home showed strength again with a 13% comp gain for November. “We continue to be very pleased with the performance of home categories,” Lang added.

Home was also singled out by Pleasanton, Calif.-based Ross Stores as a sales strongpoint for the four-week period.

“November sales outperformed our expectations and strengthened in the second half of the month,” said John Call, cfo. “Merchandise and geographic sales trends were relatively broad-based. Shoes, dresses and home remained the top performing categories for the month – all posting double-digit same store sales increases.”

Soft hom” was among York, Pa.-based Bon-Ton Stores’ best performing categories for the month, followed by shoes, dresses/suits, moderate missy sportswear, and accessories. Even so, Bon-Ton’s comps declined by 6.0%.

“Home achieved a high, single-digit comp sales increase” at Kohl’s, the Menomonee Falls, Wis.-based mid-tier department store chain reported.

And at Costco, based in Issaquah, Wash., domestics and home furnishings as well as media, men’s apparel and small appliances were the warehouse club’s best performing soft lines categories.

But at Target, home’s results were a less lustrous. Overall, comp store sales in home were down in the low single digit range with the strongest performance in home décor and seasonal items.

“Sales were slightly below our expectations for November, as softer results in the first three weeks of the month were substantially offset by better-than-expected sales during our post-Thanksgiving Two-Day sale,” said Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president and ceo. “Sales were stronger on Black Friday than Saturday, with particular strength in electronics, toys, apparel, domestics, small appliances and beauty. On-line sales during this two-day period were also quite strong.”

While JCP suffered 5.9% declines in comps for November, the department store chain made strides in its e-commerce business. Internet sales decreased 7.7% in November, but holiday internet sales through www.jcp.com “achieved a teen increase for the post-Thanksgiving Day period, including Cyber Monday,” the company noted.

The company’s site was the fifth most visited retail internet site in terms of web traffic and the top online department store retailer during Cyber Monday, according to Experian Hitwise Retail Index.” The other leaders were, in order, Amazon, Walmart, Target and Best Buy.

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